Fracking, Ukraine, and More
How much more does Congress want to learn about the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing?
The next round of appropriations decisions could provide a hint. The U.S. Geological Survey has posted new details of its budget request to Congress.
Among the items: A request to boost spending on fracking research by $8.3 million. Check out page B-24 here for more on the agency's research agenda.
Speaking of fracking, tapping shale gas in Europe is viewed as one way to help lessen dependence on Russian gas.
That could be among the topics when a top State Department energy official visits Ukraine and other European nations in coming days.
State announced this afternoon that Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual will travel to Ukraine, Belgium, and Moldova from March 19 to 25.
From State: "In Ukraine, Special Envoy Pascual will meet with senior officials of the Ukrainian Government and co-chair a meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Energy Security Working Group, which will focus on efforts to increase Ukraine's energy security."
Pascual, by the way, served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2000 to 2003.
PUBLIC APPROVES KEYSTONE, DEMS DIVIDED. A national survey by the Pew Research Center reports that 61 percent of the public say the pipeline should be built. The issue divides Democrats, however, with 49 percent of the voting bloc in favor and 38 percent opposed.
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Our take: The same split is evident on Capitol Hill, where Democrats don't agree on whether to approve the project.
BP WADES DEEPER INTO GULF WATERS. The British oil and gas giant won 24 out of 31 bids entered in an Interior Department offshore drilling lease sale, the first it was allowed to participate in since its 16-month federal contract suspension was lifted last week.
FRACKING'S ODD NEW FRIEND: VLADIMIR PUTIN. The Russian leader is a critic of the drilling process, a stance that only boosts fracking's case on the other side of the Atlantic.
GOOGLE TAKES ON CLIMATE CHANGE. The White House announced that Google and other private-sector partners will help increase access to federally available climate data alongside the government's own efforts to boost transparency and circulate information.
SHELL ABANDONS SHALE IN UKRAINE. A spokesperson for Royal Dutch Shell said today that the company ended negotiations to develop offshore shale reserves in Ukraine in January.
EXPERTS SAY DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Energy consulting and research firm IHS said that the chances of Russia halting its supply of natural gas to Europe and Ukraine are low.
METHANE LEAKS CAN BE FIXED AT LOW COST. That's according to a new study released by environmental nonprofit Clean Air Task Force, which finds that stopping methane leaks at oil and natural-gas drilling sites can be inexpensive for the industry.
KERRY WON'T TIP HAND ON KEYSTONE. The secretary of State said that not even his wife knows what he thinks about the proposed pipeline.
FORMER SENATORS PUSH NUCLEAR. Former Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Judd Gregg, R-N.H., are the new cochairs of Nuclear Matters, an organization that plans to shine a spotlight on threats to nuclear power.
CANADIAN TOP DOG FACES KEYSTONE CHALLENGE. Newly minted Canadian Resources Minister Greg Rickford will be asked to step up to the plate in the country's push to secure approval of the controversial pipeline. (Paywall)
CAN A NEW, IMPROVED TASMANIAN DEVIL ESCAPE EXTINCTION? An incurable cancer has pushed the creatures to the brink of oblivion, but scientists say they can protect just enough of them to save the species.
NATIONAL JOURNAL ENERGY POLL: Should the U.S. response to Russia include expedited approval of natural-gas exports to NATO countries and Ukraine?
A. Yes, lifting LNG export restrictions would eventually lessen Russia's influence in Europe and erode its power to use natural gas as a political weapon.
B. No, the infrastructure isn't in place to ship LNG quickly enough to impact the current crisis, and boosting exports would raise U.S. natural-gas prices.
WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING…
WHO SHOULD PAY TO UPGRADE THE GRID? Given that it will cost upwards of $4 trillion over the next 20 years to modernize electricity, gas, and water lines, is it OK to allow utilities to tack on extra charges to customers' bills to pay for those upgrades? How can consumers voice their opinions as part of the process?
"While there are many variations, there is one fundamental truth: Current business models were developed for a different time. Companies and regulators need to experiment and find agreement, outside the traditional adversarial venues of utility regulation. A modern electricity grid will require a new social compact between utilities, regulators, and the public." —Ben Paulos, director, America's Power Plan
CARBON EVENT. The Natural Resources Defense Council holds a news conference to discuss data and analysis that show the United States "can slash carbon emissions far more than projected initially under plan shaping debate on power plant carbon pollution standards."
OIL SPILL EVENT. The Sierra Club holds a press conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
NOAA SPRING OUTLOOK. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration holds its conference-call briefing, beginning at 11 a.m., to announce the U.S. Spring Outlook and flood risk.
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